Avanti West Coast Pendolino at Stockport (Photo Tony Miles)

UK: Transport for the North has written to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for a ‘critical review’ of the ‘deteriorating service being endured by passengers’ on Avanti West Coast, and also asking for first and standard premium accommodation to be declassified until performance reaches ‘an acceptable level’.

The letter of December 19 says TfN understands that there will be occasions where performance is affected by external factors, but ‘there are more fundamental issues at play’, and underlying operational resilience ‘appears to be flawed in a way that the north has previously observed on the TransPennine Express contract.’

Chair of the Rail North Committee and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said ‘this torrent of cancellations and delays on Avanti services is simply unacceptable. This is one of the most important times of the year for many families and businesses, all of whom are being let down by this deteriorating rail service without an end in sight. This cannot be allowed to continue.’

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said ‘declassifying our trains will not solve the current challenges we are seeing on our network. Our Train Managers already have the discretion to declassify our services if they are busy due to disruption, and have done so several times recently.

‘As well as disruption, we have been seeing some short-notice cancellations on our network and would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused as we know this is not good enough. These service changes are a result of resourcing challenges where we have seen a shortage of train crew due to historic leave agreements. We are working hard to make sure we can minimise these cancellations.’